Since 1987, Snomax® Snow Inducer has been helping ski resorts around the world by increasing productivity and efficiency of snowmaking through the use of its ice-nucleating proteins that induce the formation of ice crystals at all snowmaking temperatures.
What exactly is Snomax?
Snomax is an active protein, which enhances the conversion of droplets of water from a snowgun into snow. The protein is derived from a tiny bacterium called Pseudomonas syringae. This naturally-occurring bacterium is found readily in Nature, from grass to trees to vegetable and cereal crops and even in the air we breathe.
Snomax Technologies grows Pseudomonas syringae in a controlled environment in sterilized fermentation equipment. Processing involves freezing the micro-organism, similar to the process used to produce freeze-dried food, to yield a protein as the end product. The resulting pellets are then sterilized in the same type of equipment used to routinely sterilize surgical instruments. The by-product of this process is Snomax, a very active ice-nucleating protein.
How snow is formed?
The molecules in water are in continual motion. It is the energy of this motion that determines the temperature of the water and which prevents any intermolecular structure from forming. Most of us think that water freezes at 32 degrees F. But in fact, pure, distilled water can be “supercooled” to as low as -40 degrees F before it freezes.
For freezing to be initiated, sufficient energy must be removed from the water to allow the molecules to slow down and align in a latticed hexagonal array.
An ice nucleator performs this function by attracting the water molecules and slowing them down. Thus a nucleator can be simply defined as a foreign particle in the water that starts the freezing process.
How does Snomax work?
Snomax is mixed in water to form a concentrate that is metered into the snowmaking water supply. Every water droplet thrown from the snowgun is then seeded with the Snomax nucleators. This is important because the key to efficient snowmaking is to freeze as many droplets as possible before they hit the ground. If the droplets do not contain nucleators, a great many of them may not freeze before they hit the ground.
Source water that has been treated with Snomax contains anywhere from 1,000 to over 100,000 more nucleation sites than untreated source water. This means that every droplet of water has a site for ice crystals to form.
Another feature of Snomax is that it functions as a high temperature nucleator, which simply means that it is capable of initiating the freezing process at a higher temperature. Studies have shown that Snomax is effective up to almost 27 degrees F. Most natural water additives are not effective at temperatures above 15-20 degrees F and are therefore classified as low temperature nucleators. Thus, water with Snomax added will freeze faster, more completely and over a wider range of conditions.
Snomax and environmental safety
Each day, people throughout the world are exposed to billions of harmless bacteria – in the air they breathe, the food they eat, the beverages they consume. In fact, one shovelful of average topsoil contains about as many living organisms as there are people living on this Earth – about 3 billion. Among those microorganisms is Pseudomonas syringae, the source of the Snomax Snow Inducer protein.
Pseudomonas syringae is so commonplace that an average of 40 organisms is found per cubic meter of air worldwide. A single tomato leaf can yield as many as 10 billion of these organisms. In fact, a study conducted for the Canadian government concluded that if Snomax were used at all of the country’s 70 ski resorts with snowmaking, the total release of live microorganisms would be no more than what could be recovered from 100 leaves in a farmer’s field.
The strain of this bacterium used in Snomax has been proven to be a safe non-pathogenic organism. Key agencies that have regulated the commercial development of Snomax include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service and Environment Canada.
Regulatory agencies in Canada, Norway, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, and Australia – countries that are known as some of the most environmentally conscious in the world – have also studied Snomax and have approved it for commercial use. More than 35 independent scientific studies (many government required) over a six year period in the U.S. and several other countries have all come to the same conclusion – that Snomax poses no health or environmental threat whatsoever.
Snowmaking dictates a team approach to achieve the right blend of equipment, water, air, energy and labor for coping with variable weather conditions. It takes know-how to integrate successfully the many variables at work. The Snomax Support Team offers the requisite skill, experience and dedication to help operators put together a truly effective snowmaking system, one that scientifically and systematically integrates all the variables.
The Snomax Support Team is at your disposal for creating a cost efficient and effective snowmaking system.